A Rounded, Grounded View of Sex Education Vital in Schools; Professor Emma Renold Discusses Sex and Relationships Education and How It Can Be Delivered in Schools

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 23, 2017 | Go to article overview

A Rounded, Grounded View of Sex Education Vital in Schools; Professor Emma Renold Discusses Sex and Relationships Education and How It Can Be Delivered in Schools


Byline: EDUCATION EDUCATION Edited by Abbie Wightwick 029 2024 3765 abbie.wightwick@walesonline.co.uk k5 k

FOR decades, researchers, young people, and activists have campaigned for better sex and relationships education. Yet still today children and young people rarely have the high-quality lessons they need in schools around the world.

International research has found that for it to be effective, sex and relationships education needs to start early, as well as be adaptable and needs-led.

It must be delivered by welltrained and confident teachers, in partnership with external providers. It also needs to be of sufficient duration - not one-off sessions - as well as relevant, engaging and participatory.

And, most importantly, it must be held in a safe, respectful and confidential learning environment, and embedded in a whole-school approach.

But if we know what is needed, why are these lessons not in UK schools already? At present, the future of what the sex and relationship education curriculum will look like is still being discussed by politicians in England.

Wales, however, is starting to make some headway.

Since education was devolved to the Welsh Government in the 1990s, Wales has sought to embed policy and guidance on its sex and relationships education into a social justice model of rights, equity and wellbeing.

In March 2017, an expert panel - which I was invited to chair - was established by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams. We were tasked with reporting on how teachers could be supported to deliver high-quality sex and relationships education more effectively in schools in Wales, as well as help inform the development of the future curriculum in this area.

Drawing on the available national and international research, we found significant gaps between the lived experiences of children and young people, and the sex and relationships education they receive in school. We also found that the quality and quantity of these lessons vary widely from school to school.

Our panel has now made a series of recommendations to the Welsh Government which collectively constitute a major overhaul of sex and relationship education in Wales.

This is in line with significant curriculum and teacher-training reforms, and is supported by the fact that health and wellbeing will be a core part of the 2021 Welsh curriculum, with equal status to other areas of the curriculum.

In our report we have outlined a vision for a new holistic, inclusive, rights- and equity-based sexuality and relationships education curriculum.

We concluded that what children and young people need now is a "living curriculum", relevant to their lives and real-world issues. …

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